False Bay garden in May

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

For April in our garden, I looked back at the changes across four years. This year we were delighted to have an indigenous plant sale at Kirstenbosch again. I went with a careful list (chosen from the online catalogue), then allowed myself a few substitutes for the Sold Out Already.

Kirstenbosch Plant Sale 2019!
Kirstenbosch Plant Sale 2019!

With the shortest day approaching we have had a few fires. One clump of Lachenalia bulbifera catches enough sun to be the first to bloom. For Through the Garden Gate with Sarah in Dorset.

Lachenalia bulbifera
Lachenalia bulbifera

Last year the aloe buds got chewed and failed. Two weeks ago this year's buds began to rise; now the branches have opened out and the buds turn orange. Aloe ferox (leaves are smooth on outer surface). For Wildflower Wednesday with Gail at Clay and Limestone in Tennessee.

Aloe ferox buds
Aloe ferox buds

For Spring Promise (pink, white and silver) I have replaced Pelargonium tomentosum (minty leaves, semi-shade) and Pelargonium cordifolium (also prefers light shade) Another buchu Agathosma collina for herby fresh leaves. I love silver leaves and added Helichrysum petiolare Petite, Syncarpha Pink Bud and Gazania Hybrid White.

New plants for Spring Promise
New plants for Spring Promise

For Cornish Stripe ('blue', purple and white) a replacement Scabiosa incisa (attracts butterflies) and Berkheya purpurea (African thistle).

New plants for Cornish Stripe
New plants for Cornish Stripe

For Summer Gold (yellows) In the pot in the shade Knowltonia vesicatoria (ranunculus family) and Commelina africana with yellow flowers - two plants I love from our Fynbos Rambles. Artemisia afra with its soft anise and liquorice leaves at the zigzag in the path.

New plants for Summer Gold
New plants for Summer Gold

On the 'chalk fingers' Cotyledon orbiculata the first of MANY flowers has opened. I am afraid to plant out the last Kirstenbosch plant - a thumb sized Serruria villosa (blooming wild and free on recent hikes). From the pot I removed about a dozen yellow Clivia plants - now enjoying spreading their roots under the carob tree. Furry purple Mexican bush sage. Woolly bear caterpillar chewing succulent leaf. I moved the Dipogon to more sun and maybe, and planted a sucker from the Jasminum angulare growing happily in the shade of Halleria lucida from a Porterville cutting - should be more successful at using the trellis around the rain tank.

May in our garden
May in our garden

April pictures made me see that I had lost the charm of the offset path. I cut back hard Salvia africana-lutea (renamed Salvia aurea - after five years take cuttings for fresh plants they say) to make space for Artemisia afra. And also the overhanging branches. 

Spring Promise with silver leaves
Spring Promise with silver leaves

Summer Gold with yellow daisies times three
Summer Gold with yellow daisies times three

With all the horror around plastic pollution we have been on a long slow Zero Waste Journey. My personal target is zero waste muesli. For this batch I achieved dates, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds and almonds. Next time there will also be oats, Brazil nuts and soft dried apricots (also cinnamon and ginger when I need refills). That leaves carob powder, nutmeg and cloves. We add chopped (unpackaged) fresh ginger (in honey, yes in plastic). Still generating single use plastic waste for recycling from ... yoghurt, linseed meal, vegan protein powder, and most of the fresh fruit we use. Zero waste dry groceries in BYO containers from Low Impact Living in Glencairn.

Targeting Zero Waste muesli
Targeting Zero Waste muesli

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Pictures by Diana Studer

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Comments

  1. So many changes in four years and it’s wonderful to have documentation of the journey. Oh my gosh the plants and blossoms are so exotic to my eyes, truly amazing, we follow as closely as we can a zero waste path also, it’s a passion of mine. Our city has really stepped up making many options for less to no packaging available to us, We all must do what we can! It’s so good to see a post from you, I look forward to each and every one you do.

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  2. Fall is the best time to plant here too (not that that stops me during other times of the year). You made good use of all those plant sale purchases and I'm sure your garden will show the benefit during the course of the next year. I've been looking for Lachenalia here for a long time - the bulbs don't pop up often in our part of the world. Your zero waste goals are as impressive as your water conservation.

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  3. I noticed you have cut back your Salvia, I've read we should cut ours back in spring, I'm pretty sure it is one from South Africa. Perhaps spring is for the Salvia plants in the Northern Hemisphere.

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    1. I cut it back now to make space for the Artemisia afra. You could probably cut it back twice a year - after flowering and / or before your rainy season? It does grow to take over the garden!

      Checking here http://pza.sanbi.org/salvia-aurea it has been renamed!
      After 5 years, start again from cuttings, they say.

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    2. Good luck with your zero waste journey--that is quite commendable! I have to admit: I envy your warm, green winter.

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  4. It must be wonderful to go to a plant sale at Kirstenbosch! Although I often look for specific plants it can be so easy to be attracted to other plants that end up coming home too! I always enjoy seeing the huge range of plants that you can grow! The Lachenalia bulbifera looks amazing! Well done with your zero waste journey - I have made my own museli fro around 5 years now.

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    Replies
    1. My first muesli was about 20 years ago. Then it was granola, baked, sticky, messy. All raw now, except the dried fruit.

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  5. Two weeks and we have the longest day. Mind you the day time temperature this past week has been a miserable 12/14c. Your garden looks good in all seasons. Waitrose has just introduced a bring your own containers for pasta, wine, coffee and fruit and vegetables which will be loose.

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    Replies
    1. That is encouraging - step by step change is coming. 16C inside when I got up this morning. Snow on our mountains.

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  6. Beautiful plants. You are made of stronger stuff than me, Diana. I always go to the craft store with a list and never stick to it :-)
    Amalia
    xo

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  7. I'm interested in your zero-waste muesli challenge. Packaging is such an issue, and it has been made worse by the craze for online shopping. Maine just passed a law prohibiting single-use plastic bags, but there are already some warnings about unintended consequences that might have worse environmental consequences.

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    1. The greenwashed bioplastic which hides the problem in microplastic instead?

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  8. That's nice, having a plant sale with native plants. Berkheya is now recommended in Europa as a drought tolerant plant. Botanical gardens have them on show already.

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  9. A few weeks ago a saw something on tv about a nursery that kept all plastic pots. So when you buy a plant there, they take it out of the pot and wrap it in paper for you. The nursery reuses the pots and the customer doesn't end up with plastic waste.

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    Replies
    1. And bonus points for motivating to us to go home and plant it, soonest.

      I can take our plastic plant pots to the new nursery they have started at the Neighbourhood Farm.

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